writing on the wall, and all that

I’m starting to get to that point where keeping an informal game-focused pop-culture blog seems ridiculous.  I don’t really know what I’m doing here anymore.  I’m feeling disconnected from the games I play; I’m feeling distanced from the books I read; I feel like I can’t enjoy music the way I used to, where I’d just totally shut out the world and allow myself to be consumed by the sounds coming through my headphones.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing a bit of self-care right now.  Staying angry is necessary but it’s exhausting, and while I’m not on social media all that much anymore, I can’t help but feel that when I do pop my head in, most of what I see are essentially pissing matches about who the most “woke” is instead of finding practical, tangible ways of dealing with the nightmare we’ve all been thrust into.  And it’s more than just calling up your elected officials and making your voice heard – because once you get off the phone with your representative, that representative needs to follow through, and there is some frustrating (albeit anecdotal) evidence that the necessary follow-through isn’t happening.  (As an example, see this Twitter thread.)

Look – while this blog has the perfect title for it, this is not going to turn into a political site; I’m not smart enough to have the kinds of insights that are useful, and I can’t write well enough to fake my way through it, and the one thing I think we can all agree on right now is that there’s a WHOLE LOT OF NOISE.  I am reading, I am listening, I am learning.  I would rather speak my piece when I know what my piece is.

But I must admit that the alternative – to pretend that the nightmare isn’t happening and that you’re actually curious as to what I think about, say, Titanfall 2‘s campaign – isn’t all that appealing.  Or realistic.  I know what kind of traffic I get over here, and it ain’t much.

I write this now because this is usually the time of the year where I start going through my various spreadsheets and start compiling my Best Of 2016 posts, and I’m just not feeling it.  2016 sucked on nearly every conceivable level, and while there were some bright spots that are worth celebrating, I’m finding it unusually difficult to muster up the requisite joy with which to celebrate them.  Despite my medications and weekly therapy sessions, there’s a deep melancholy that’s setting in, and when I reflect on all this year has given us, it’s all I can do to stop myself from curling into the fetal position and setting this blog on fire.

I don’t want to set this blog on fire.  That’s about as definitive as I can get right now.

I do want to focus on finishing my album.  That’s the thing I should be working on over everything else.  Writing lyrics fucking sucks, but I’ve gotta figure out a way to work through it anyway.  I’ve got at least an album’s worth of really good music, but none of it’s finished yet, and if I continue to not finish it, what’s the point?

Anyway.  I’m rambling more than usual because this is the first substantial lull I’ve had all day and it’s probably the last opportunity I’ll have to write here before December.

So.  Take care of yourselves; take care of each other; I’ll be back here when I figure out how to do it right.

after the darkest day

My silence of late is of a different sort than what usually happens whenever it goes quiet around here.  More often than not, I stay quiet here because I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say and/or I’m too busy with day job stuff to make any coherent sense out of whatever insights I might have to offer.

In this case, well, I’m still in a state of shock and disbelief.  It’s been a week since our national nightmare began and there’s still a part of me thinking that this is just some terrible, terrible dream that I’m having a very difficult time waking up from.  (Did I get hit in the head last Tuesday?  Am I in a coma?)

The most important thing, though, is that you (whoever you may be) don’t mistake my silence for apathy or acceptance.  My silence has nothing to do with complicity; it’s simply that the internet is a cacophony of nonsense right now, everybody yelling at each other about everything (from abolishing the electoral college to the absurdity of safety pins), and meanwhile Trump continues to do truly evil/incompetent shit in the background because the mainstream media, by and large, doesn’t quite know how to talk about it.

And if they don’t know how to talk about it, well, I sure as hell don’t know how to talk about it.  I want to make sure that any contribution I make to this national conversation actually means something.  And right now, all I know is that I know nothing.  I can’t afford to stay silent forever – and as a white cis male, I can’t stay silent for much longer – but it’s important to me that whatever I start doing next is the right thing.  That it’s a helpful thing, and that it’s a meaningful thing, and that it’s a necessary thing.

I will say this:  right now, talking about videogames feels like the dumbest thing on earth, even though I’ve been playing quite a lot of them lately.

Also: the new Tribe Called Quest album is fucking dope.

I’ll leave this here, too, because this is probably useful:

Trump Protests calendar (from DailyKos)

TUESDAY, NOV. 15

Fairfield, CA (3 PM)

Chicago, IL — student walkout

Champaign, IL (3 PM)

Ann Arbor, MI (5 PM)

Durham, NH (3 PM — UNH student walkout)

New York City, NY (4 PM)

Akron, OH (11 AM)

Philadelphia, PA — Equality Coalition protest, seeking details

Janesville, WI (4 PM)

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 16

Rochester, MI (Noon)

Reading, PA (6 PM)

THURSDAY, NOV. 17

Rochester, MI (Noon)

Minneapolis, MN (8 AM)

FRIDAY, NOV. 18

Birmingham, AL

Costa Mesa, CA (6 PM)

Sacramento, CA (5 PM)

Groton, CT (5 PM)

Miami, FL (6 PM)

West Palm Beach, FL (6 PM)

Des Moines, IA (2 PM)

Chicago, IL (6 PM)

Holyoke, MA (4 PM)

Alpena, MI (4 PM)

Jersey City, NJ (6 PM)

New York City, NY (6 PM)

Cleveland, OH (5 PM — Town Hall)

Cleveland, OH (6 PM — Public Square)

Norfolk, VA (6 PM)

SATURDAY, NOV. 19

Fresno, CA (Noon)

San Francisco, CA (Noon)

Washington, DC (1 PM)

Wilton Manors, FL (5 PM)

Chicago, IL (Noon)

Indianapolis, IN (More info needed)

Cincinnati, OH (1 PM)

St. Louis, MO (2 PM)

Albany, NY (1 PM)

Plattsburgh, NY (1 PM)

Philadelphia, PA (1 PM — Thomas Paine Plaza)

Philadelphia, PA (6 PM — Jefferson Station)

Pittsburgh, PA (1 PM)

Chattanooga, TN (2 PM)

Presidio, TX (1 PM) — No link found, info appreciated.

Olympia, WA (Noon)

Seattle, WA (Noon)

Tacoma, WA (11 AM)

SUNDAY, NOV. 20

San Jose, CA (1 PM) — City Hall

San Rafael, CA (4 PM)

Oklahoma City, OK (2 PM)

Lubbock, TX (6 PM)

Olympia, WA (Noon)

Milwaukee, WI (6 PM)

COUNTER-INAUGURAL RALLY / JAN. 20

Los Angeles, CA

Washington, DC

MILLION WOMEN’S MARCH / JAN. 21

Oakland, CA

Washington, DC

Portland, OR

OTHER

Portland Resistance is raising funds to assist businesses damaged when protests last week got out of hand.

 

 

 

the payoff

[EDIT:  I realize that, as I’d guessed in the first paragraph, I’d forgotten to talk about a bunch of things; those work-related interruptions did indeed screw up my train of thought.  Additional thoughts will be added below.]

I’m having one of those days where I’m not particularly busy, but I can guarantee that as soon as I start getting on a roll here, I’ll be given some work to do.  I’ve been wanting to write here all week, frankly, and the whole week has been in this same sort of vein; I’m terribly idle right up until the moment I decide to be personally productive, and then I’ll get handed a large project within the next 1-5 minutes of that decision.  If I’m stalling here in this introductory paragraph, it’s because I’m reluctant to suddenly lose my actual blog-worthy trains of thought.

As it happens from time to time, I’m starting to have trouble articulating this blog’s primary purpose.  I like having a blog, and I don’t plan on deleting this one; it’s just that I simply don’t have the time/inclination to do any serious criticism here.  I’ve noticed lately that to the extent I write anything even remotely critical at all, it’s mostly just “I like this, I don’t like that.”  Superficial, not particularly hard-hitting, shallow.  Again, it’s difficult for me to find time to write the way I’d like to, and I’m currently in this phase where I’m having trouble really getting into things the way I used to, which has a tendency to result in apathy.  I’m not sure if this is a side effect of my new head meds or not; one positive side effect of these head meds is that my ability to simply let things be what they are is a lot stronger.

  • Westworld:  I’ve started to notice (on Twitter, at least) that there are regular watchers of this show who are becoming angry and impatient at the show’s very slow doling out of information.  There are too many mysteries and not enough answers, they say, even though we’re only halfway through the first season.  There is now a struggle between the pleasure of anticipation and the need for instant gratification, and I can’t help but wonder if Netflix and the culture of binge-watching has ruined the ability for a television show’s cliffhanger to be effective.  Westworld reminds me a lot of Lost, in this way, but Lost suffered from a different problem; Lost’s mysteries overwhelmed the show itself to the point where there were no answers that could ever possibly be adequate.  I remain very optimistic that Westworld will not suffer this fate; each episode has been meticulous in its construction and I remain confident that the showrunners know exactly what they’re doing.  (The show’s only made one real blunder, as far as I’m concerned – the dopey and crude lab techs from this last week’s episode are gross and annoying, and their scenes aren’t nearly as well-written as everyone else’s.)  In any event, I’m just grateful to watch Anthony Hopkins kill it on a weekly basis.
  • Cubs:  I am no longer the die-hard sports fanatic that I used to be; among other things, I found my intense superstitious behaviors to be an impediment to the simple enjoyment of watching a game (i.e., if my team needed to score a run / goal / touchdown, I’d have to leave the room and pee; I could only listen to the Yankees on the radio, even when the radio broadcasting became abhorrent to listen to, etc.).  Also my wife and I cut the cable cord a few years ago and live sports, for the most part, became something I simply couldn’t watch, which made this transition into the non-sports-caring person I am today that much easier.  In any event, I’m still terribly superstitious, as it turns out, and so even though I was rooting for the Cubs, I was terribly afraid of saying or doing anything that might jinx them.  The most I could allow myself to do was to “Like” the various Cubs-related Facebook posts that my family and friends posted, and that was it.  I know it’s ridiculous, and this is why I’ve forcibly stopped myself from caring so much.  [EDIT:  So, anyway, GO CUBS!  Very happy for all my Cub friends and family.  I, of course, didn’t watch.  You’re welcome.]
  • Games:  It’s big-budget first-person-shooter season, and as such I’ve decided to give in and rent the big three.  I’m still in the first mission of Battlefield 1, and while it’s technically very impressive I’m not, like, craving it.  My rental copy of the new Call of Duty is en route, as is Titanfall 2; I ordinarily would be happy to ignore both of these games except that their single-player campaigns have been getting surprisingly great reviews, and that’s the only bit of those games that I tend to get involved with.  So be it.  [EDIT:  I also ended up giving up on XCOM 2I can tell it’s a good game, but I also know I’m far too intimidated by it to give it its proper due.  I may pick it up again during a release lull, but I wouldn’t expect myself to get much farther than I already did.]
  • Books:  Man, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about books here.  The last thing I mentioned was The Nix, which I adored.  Since then, I’ve read:
    KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money J.M.R. Higgs A-
    The Tresspasser Tana French A
    Death’s End Liu Cixin B+
    Pym Mat Johnson B-
    His Bloody Project Graeme MaCrae Burnet B

    I am now currently reading I.Q. by Joe Ide, and even though I’m in the early going I’m enjoying it quite a lot.